Adjutant General's Corps Regimental Association

Richard Saddler: Soldier, Spouse, Father, Musician

In April of 2020, the Saddler family and the United States Army lost a remarkable man. Richard Nathaniel Saddler passed away at the age of 89, previously serving his country for over 41 years. He was born in Irondale, Alabama, and later moved to Detroit, Michigan where he studied trumpet at Wayne State University. In July of 1952, he was drafted into the Army and upon completion of basic training was assigned to the 298th Army Band of Berlin, Germany. During his time there he met his life-long spouse Hannelore. It was turbulent times in Germany as half the country was oppressed under communist control. Richard would return to Germany multiple times in his career forging remarkable connections with the communities surrounding the Army bases there.

Mr. Saddler continued his musical education throughout his 15 years as an enlisted Soldier, studying with luminary brass players Mel Broiles (New York Metropolitan Opera, West Point Band) and John Coffey (Boston Symphony Orchestra). During this time, he served in Bands stationed at: Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Fort Devens, Massachusetts, Stuttgart, Germany, and Fort Ord, California.

Specialist Saddler plays the trumpet for a Soldier dance in Germany

 

President Nixon praises CW2 Saddler for an excellent band performance while commanding the 282nd Army Band, For Jackson, SC.

In 1967, Richard Saddler was appointed as a Warrant Officer and assigned to the 282nd Army Band, Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Soon after arriving, he led the band in support of the Vice President and later, President Nixon. Even after being an Army Band Soldier for many years, everything changes when you are the one holding the baton. Richard was keen reader of people, his outgoing nature surely served him well when interacting with high-ranking officials and the public at large.

 

 

 

The summer of 1969, was turbulent time for the United States, and Mr. Saddler found himself in charge of the 1st Cavalry Division Band providing music for troops in Vietnam. In November 1969, the band was giving one of its firebase concerts which were designed to give variety and entertainment to the otherwise repetitive days of jungle outposts. Upon being fired on, from the nearby jungle, the band had to drop their instruments and take up their M-16s. Following the fire fight, they returned to continue their concert. The timing of this event lines up with Mr. Saddler’s command, but this story cannot be corroborated. However, his son (Colonel (R) Richard Saddler), relayed stories of multiple times his father had to hit the dirt/mud during firefights. It was common practice during the Vietnam War for Army Musicians to serve in perimeter security roles along with their primary mission of playing music.

Mr. Saddler connects with local Vietnamese during an outreach concert.

 

The newspaper of Aberdeen Proving Ground reported on Chief Saddler’s assumption of command of the 324th Army Band in 1970. The writer highlights the band capturing a North Vietnamese lieutenant after getting close to their camp to hear the band’s music. Once again, the band under Saddler’s leadership was a direct contributor to the fight as Soldiers and musicians. Richard knew that music is a binding force that can lift spirits and bring people together. He made sure to bring music to as many troops as possible and along the way interacting with a diverse range of communities.

From Vietnam to the Cold War front in Berlin, Germany, Chief Saddler and his troops made their mark on history. Chief Warrant Officer 5 (R) Dave Ratliff remembers his time serving under Saddler: “…we raised the United States flag at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in East Berlin, and provided music for all the Americans stationed on that side of the wall…..He gave the crowd what they wanted to hear and then he took them on a journey.  The stage band, rock combo, and concert band entertained the crowd to thunderous ovations and encores.  His interaction with the audience is the primary lesson I learned.” Saddler was a mentor to many and truly understood what it meant to take care of Soldiers and their Families.

Connecting with a student audience in Germany

The 298th Army Band (Berlin Brigade) was a unit famous for its ability to connect the U.S. Military to the people of Germany, when their country was divided by communism. The town of Einhausen was particularly welcoming and through the band’s performances a long-term trust was built. Often alumni from the band would go back to Einhausen to perform and share memories with the community.

After his time in Germany, Mr. Saddler served the rest of his career with the 392nd Army Band at Fort Lee, Virginia and the 74th Army Band, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. There he continued being an inspiring mentor and leader, helping Soldiers not only join the Army Band but shepherd them through their career. He retired from the Army in 1993, as a Master Warrant Officer 4, the highest warrant officer rank at the time.

COL (R) Saddler remembers his father spending many nights writing and arranging music. Often with his German-style concertina (reed-bellows instrument) by his side. Dick Saddler was a man who learned music from some of the best teachers and used his love of music in service of others through the Army. His kind spirit served him well in taking care of those under his command. The combination of music and Army training allowed him to lead troops in combat environments and high-pressure ceremonies for dignitaries. He is remembered fondly by the hundreds of Soldier-Musicians he served with and led. Mr. Saddler has left an incredible legacy to the United States Army, The Adjutant General’s Corps, and the Army Band community.

Richard N. Saddler is survived by his loving wife, Hannelore Lilli Saddler; children, Susan Starks, Colonel (R) Richard Saddler, and Yvonne Glover; grandchildren, Dr. Sabina Holland, Alisha Saddler, Lindsey Saddler, Derrick Glover, Eric Glover, and Donald Glover; sister, Jeanne Saddler; and brother, Daryl Saddler.

 

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Army Bands Keep Us Connected

COVID-19 has caused global upheaval and the U.S. Army is following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control, while maintaining readiness to defend the nation. The National Guard has been called to active duty in many states to assist with the pandemic often including Soldiers from Army Bands. Even though our enemy is a microscopic virus, we find ourselves in a large-scale combat operation to protect the citizens of the United States.

FM 3-0 describes large-scale combat operations as- “intense, lethal, and brutal. Their conditions include complexity, chaos, fear, violence, fatigue, and uncertainty. To an ever increasing degree, activities in the information environment are inseparable from ground operations. They present the greatest challenge for Army forces.” This definition applies to our current environment. So what role do Army Bands play in large-scale combat operations?

No matter the situation or environment Army Bands provide music that perpetuates service identity, traditions, and morale. It also enhances the public’s confidence in the Army and inspires patriotism. Army Bands are the only arts organizations equipped to deliver music under any condition. They are trained as Soldiers first, which means they can go places and reach people even in the most dire of circumstances. Music is an essential part of our humanity, as demonstrated by the people of Italy during this crisis.

Army Bands such as the U.S. Army Field Band and the 34th Infantry Division Band are making videos for social media to reach us while we stay home. Some stories are even making it to national news outlets. The 78th Army Band is offering masterclasses to the many students whose schools are closed. As bands continue to deliver music to Soldiers and the American Public, they also are assisting with a variety of tasks to support COVID-19 operations. The 13th and 248th Army Bands are assisting with state testing sites. The West Point Band is providing operations support to the United State Military Academy COVID Task Force.

No matter how difficult the times, music is there to comfort us and bring meaning to seemingly senseless events. Army Bands will continue their mission, whether it be in large-scale ground combat, or combatting a global pandemic. Stay healthy and safe at a social distance until our local and national authorities give us the all clear.

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LT James Reese Europe and the 369th “Harlem Hellfighters” Infantry Regiment Band

James Reese Europe was a leading composer and bandleader in New York City at the beginning of the 20th century. During this time, he was able to synthesize classical, ragtime, and march music to create a sound identity of the African-American community. He responded to criticism by saying, “We have developed a kind of symphony music that, no matter what else you think, is different and distinctive, and that lends itself to the playing of the peculiar compositions of our race … My success had come … from a realization of the advantages of sticking to the music of my own people.”

Europe originally enlisted in the New York National Guard, but was soon given a commission once his musical skill was discovered. He was charged with creating a band for the 369th Infantry Regiment which composed of African-American and Latino men. They were sent to France in December of 1917, eventually being assigned to the French Army, as American Soldiers refused to serve with the 369th troops. The French troops treated them fairly and were happy to have the help since they had already been fighting the Germans for many years. Unique to the 369th was their officers were also African-American, a first in the U.S. Army, of which Lieutenant Europe was one. The entire regiment was awarded the Croix de Guerre for their gallant service in the American Expeditionary Force.

The music of the 369th Band was an instant morale booster for their fellow troops and also connected French, British, and other European Allies to a uniquely American cultural creation. This identity of American culture persists to the present day, as European audiences are generally more accepting of ‘jazz’ music than the country where it was born. Upon the unit’s return in February of 1919, they led the parade through New York City, with many of the local black population in attendance. A proud moment to see their fellow countrymen marching in victory to music created and played by African-Americans.

The 369th Experience was organized for the centennial celebration of the end of World War I. The group carries on the tradition of James Reese Europe and educates its audiences about this important time in American History. Later in the 20th Century, the U.S. Government used the music of African-Americans to project a National Identity to the world. The world then responded back through the infusion of blues and jazz into their popular styles. Practically all popular music made today across the globe has traces of the rhythms and melodies created by the African-American community.

Check out the West Point Band performing some of James Reese Europe’s compositions.

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